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CASE STUDY

Establishing process thinking in research and education

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With 17,500 students, the Munich University of Applied Sciences is the largest university of its kind in Bavaria, and the second-largest in Germany. It currently offers around 70 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and employs around 500 professors, 660 staff members and research assistants as well as 750 part-time lecturers. These colleagues come from a professional background and maintain excellent contacts to the commercial and business world. This is probably one of the reasons why many faculty members at the Munich University of Applied Sciences hold top positions in current rankings by Zeit, Handelsblatt and Wirtschaftswoche.

Since 2006, it has been legally required that research be included in the activities of all universities of applied sciences in Bavaria. The sum of third-party funds has increased tenfold since 2002. Innovations are developed in cooperation with the business world in order to ensure that companies can implement them effectively. The fact that the Munich University of Applied Sciences is very well-connected plays a significant role. Among its partners are high-performing local small and medium-sized enterprises from the region as well as global players. The University also cooperates with other educational institutions in Germany and worldwide. This not only facilitates the exchange of students, instructors and researchers, but also promotes a national and international dialogue about methods and trends in teaching, research and university policy.

Process management in many areas

Due to this wide spectrum of topics and interfaces, first-class process management is crucial for the University. This is why it has relied on software by iGrafx since 2011. The central component of an entire suite of process optimisation tools is the FlowCharter solution. It assists in graphically modelling processes and also offers the possibility of analysing and optimising the areas of processes that have room for improvement. As soon as the optimal process flow has been found, it can be recorded in diagrams and flowcharts with the corresponding references in a quality management handbook.

“We generally work on the process mapping in groups and attempt to find the best solution in the same step. FlowCharter is a great solution for displaying these processes, because individual process steps can be created with just a few mouse clicks”, says Dr. Lilian Ulhass, Quality Management Representative of the Munich University of Applied Sciences. Another iGrafx solution in use is Process Central. This product serves as a repository for all relevant processes and their associated information. iGrafx Process Central works hand-in-hand with FlowCharter, expanding the options in the areas of document management, life-cycle management, cooperation in teams and storing useful process information. “We plan to further expand the use of this tool in the coming months”, says Ulhaas.

More process safety in procurement

One process that was optimised with the assistance of iGrafx was procurement. As a public institution, the University is bound by a number of regulations and rules in this regard. FlowCharter was the ideal tool to transparently present the individual steps with the associated contact partners. “We worked with different colleagues from the affected areas, such as representatives from the financial department but also with lawyers,” says Lilian Ulhaas. We were able to quickly transfer the results of this working group into the FlowCharter world. “The intuitive graphic interface makes this very easy,” says Ulhass of the system’s advantages.

Currently, the Quality Management Team is not using a special tool for the publication of processes. The results are prepared manually and posted on the University’s Intranet as PDF files. However, this will soon change. Process Central will be put to use in this area as well. It will allow results and analyses to be published directly on a website. Lilian Ulhaas can’t put a specific figure on the direct return for this investment. First and foremost, that fact that it improves the cooperation between different departments as well as between instructors and administration will certainly make using iGrafx solutions worthwhile in the middle- and long-term. “Above all, we would like to establish process thinking. Up to now, many colleagues have only thought about the process in their own departments,” says Lilian Ulhaas. “However, the topic of processes is becoming more and more significant in our daily work at the University. With the iGrafx solutions, we have the right tools at hand.”

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